Business Class Girl @lamomo
Chapter 7

Chapter 7, revamped!
Your eyes are not deceiving you. I am reposting Business Class Girl from scratch, sprucing it up with the help of Alice's White Rabbit and Sunflower Fran.
The updated version will post weekly on Mondays and, after the first 22 chapters have been posted, they will be followed by new chapters until completion, since the story is now entirely pre-written.

Thank you to Sally and Fran for editing and beta'ing, to RobsmyyummyCabanaboy and Deh for being my plot coaches and shoulders to cry on.

Thank you for all the new alerts and favorites, and thank you for propelling BCG past 700 reviews! I appreciate and treasure every single one of them.

Disclaimer: *checks notes* It still all belongs to Stephenie. I just like to play in the sandbox.

CHAPTER 7

BCG's POV

The ride on the Tiger through LA's crazy traffic is exhilarating. The cool November wind slides off my face. The only sounds that matter are the roar of the Tiger's engine and the unsteady rhythm of my breath, as I try to recover from the first meeting with my new boss, Edward Cullen.

Rosalie is going to freak out. The movie that changed Edward's career overnight is based on a book phenomenon that's Rosalie's latest obsession. When she learns who my boss is, my best friend will become my personal stalker.

All too soon, even before I can sort out my first thoughts about him, I'm already in Venice Beach, rushing past the security guard at the gated community where Em and I live. I sweep through the garage door with a flourish and skid to a stop in front of a very impatient Emmett.

How do I know he's impatient? Because he's balancing a baseball bat from one hand to the other while humming the theme from The Simpsons. It's his childish way of letting me know I've kept him waiting. Meet Emmett McCarty-Swan, a five-year-old's brain trapped in the body of a thirty-four-year-old man.

As I break free from the confines of my helmet, gloves, and jacket, he leans back on the doorframe, pinning his arms on the bat. From this odd crouching posture, he looks at me, expectantly. "So?"

"So, what?" I retort, making him work for it a while longer.

"So the actor, for fuck's sake! Rosie tells me he's like the ultimate Hollywood hottie."

I scoff. Rosalie will hunt me down very shortly because Emmett blabbed. Already.

"Well, I have a new job, with a new BlackBerry, starting next Monday."

I try to hide my uneasiness while Emmett waggles his eyebrows. He's been talking to Rosie about my new boss, and this is not a good omen.

"And the fact that 45% of the worldwide female population over the age of five has the hots for this guy leaves you completely unfazed?"

I walk around Emmett and climb the stairs from the garage into the main living area. He follows me like a bloodhound.

"He's very polite." I wave my hands dismissively, grabbing two beers from the fridge.

"Very polite? Newsflash, sister. I have a subscription to GQ, and that goddamn photo shoot he did? Not fair to the brotherhood, man, not fair."

Now, I'm genuinely puzzled. I scrunch my eyebrows at Emmett, silently begging him to elaborate.

"The brotherhood, sister! Talk about evening the playing field a little, for fuck's sake! Every guy on earth is SOL after those pics. Damn, even Rosie has one of them as wallpaper on her laptop. Rosie!"

I listen to Emmett's tirade, completely flabbergasted. He spits his customary endearment for Rosalie out as an expletive with an utterly incensed look. Who would have thought that an actor, and one from the rather non-sporty side of the tracks, I might add, could put a chink in Emmett's self-confidence? That's a first.

My brother is six foot four, and there isn't a single ounce in his body that's not well-toned and well-exercised muscle. He can boast a powerful and striking physique because he's been a sporty guy from the sandbox, and he was well on his way to making his career as a professional NFL football player when he busted his kneecap in his senior year at USC. Goodbye to Linebacker Emmett, enter Coach Swan. He's now a football coach at an exclusive local private school and personal trainer on the side and completely loves his jobs.

On top of that, while he inherited, like me, our father's brown hair and eyes, Emmett has retained an open, childlike face with bright eyes and the cutest dimples you could ever imagine on a grown man's face without making him look stupid. The illusion that Emmett is cute, though, disappears as soon as he opens his mouth.

These are the main reasons, and then some, why I'm all the more astounded to listen to him ranting about this unexplainable—to me, at least—and unexpected bout of male insecurity in the face of a younger man. He's not prone to this kind of stunt, for much like Rosalie, he always exudes self-confidence, and if anything, he borders on being a smart-ass.

He might need positive reinforcement, so I decide to throw in my tuppence.

"Yes, he's good-looking. So what? He's an actor."

Emmett looks at me like he thinks I should be committed. Stat.

"Sis, have you looked at him? The man is unreal, and it's not just his looks. The things he's done in barely five years … I Googled him, you know."

I choke on my beer. I was wrong. It's not just my BFF who's about to turn into a stalker; my brother is also on board. The enemy is here, in my own home.

"You did what?"

"You're gonna be on call 24/7 with that guy. I wanna know who is spending time with my little sister." His voice has turned abruptly serious.

"Emmett, I think he's a nice guy. Angela wouldn't ask me to work with him if he wasn't."

Emmett walks around the kitchen island, grabs his beer from the counter, and puts his hands on my shoulders.

"His life is crazy. The paparazzi follow him around as if he were a fox in the hunting season. Do you really know what you're getting yourself into? Do you really want to get sucked into this chaos?"

Emmett is being a loving, protective brother, and with this flash of insightfulness, he's hit the nail right on the head. Will LA Bella be able to avoid London Bella's mistakes?

"He looks so young and lost to me. I guess I won't know until I try, Em."

He hugs me without warning. "Don't you get hurt while you figure that out, BeeBee."

I hug him back and we both fall silent for a moment. All the years I spent in London, I really missed being with my brother, talking things over, having someone who looks out for me. I realise these are no longer momentary perks, and I am not going to lose Emmett again when I fly back to London because I'm not flying back anywhere. I'm here to stay.

My epiphany is interrupted by two things.

Em breaks the moment, saying, "Don't we have a party to go to, hot stuff?"

At the same time, Warren Zevon howls about the Werewolves of London from the bottom of my jacket pocket, and I freeze in Em's arms. My phone is ringing.

I don't want to take this call but I have to, because if I ignore him, Jake will not relent, and the rest of my day will turn to shit.

Emmett knows this well and tries to stop me from reaching for my iPhone. "You don't have to talk to Mr Asshole Extraordinaire. Let him rot."

Jeez! Rosalie has even passed on her uncomplimentary nickname for Jake. I really have no secrets left. It's a tad depressing to contemplate that my brother and his girlfriend are gossiping behind my back like old ladies and are in cahoots to ensure that my ex-boyfriend meets the end he deserves.

I square my shoulders and get ready for battle as I wiggle out of Emmett's grasp and yank my phone from my jacket pocket. Emmett backs away, surrendering to the lost cause.

"Bella? Bella! Why are you ignoring my calls? Where are you? Who is with you?" Jake drowns me in an endless stream of invasive, inane questions. Some things never change.

"I am perfectly entitled to ignore your calls, Jake. And good afternoon to you, too. I see your manners haven't improved since we last met." I try to sound icy and detached. It's a great thing there's a whole continent and an ocean between us, and he can't actually see me because I am quivering already, and not in a good way.

"Why do you disrespect me, Bella? Why don't you come back to me?"

He's so all over the place he can't even insult me properly without trying to win me back at the same time. The guy has no strategy skills whatsoever.

"What would you want with a woman who disrespects you, Jake? You're better off without me. I'm better off without you."

I try to be assertive, but it hurts. Every single spiteful word, every witty comeback takes a toll on my soul. This is not me; this is business Bella. This is the ruthless negotiator who juggles conflicting deadlines and calendars and creates time where it doesn't exist. This is the girl who doesn't take shit from anyone.

BeeBee, on the contrary, wouldn't hurt anyone and abhors conflict and verbal abuse, if she can help it. She is so sick of pressure, of mind games and competitions, that all of her personal interactions outside work are simple and linear, in a no-fuss no-worry fashion.

This is why Bella knew for a fact, from scratch, that Jake was bad news, but BeeBee couldn't resist his flowers, his kindness, and his affection. That is, what little there was until he revealed his true self.

This is why I must be badass and unpleasant with Jake now, not because offence is the best defence, but because I need to protect myself; not because some skewed moral compass dictates I'm entitled to get even, but because I can't allow him to rule my life, to thrive on my insecurities even from far away.

This is why Bella can find the strength to hand Jake's ass to him over the phone but can't guarantee BeeBee's safety in the process.

"I want a woman at my side, and that woman should be you, and you know it."

This is the last straw. He doesn't get to dictate conditions. He has no bargaining power over me. Not anymore.

"Give me a good reason why, Jacob Black. Give me a good reason beyond your own fucking convenience."

I wait for a few seconds because I know he'll come up short. He has no reasons, at least none I'd consider valid in my book or none he can openly admit to my face. Not even the elementary and cheesy "because I still love you even if you hurt me."

I end the call and toss the phone away from me. I sag against the kitchen counter, embittered and exhausted. I feel like I've run the New York City Marathon jumping on my left foot. I am depleted of all energy and liveliness. The day has turned to shit anyway.

I remain frozen there for a moment, still slumped against the counter, until the full impact of this horrible conversation with Jake finally hits me and my knees buckle. I fall to the floor huddled in a shapeless, sobbing heap of trembling bones.

Before I realise what's happening, before I can even protest, I'm forcibly lifted off the ground and Emmett is carrying me upstairs. He looks pissed beyond recognition.

"If you're reduced to this every time the asshole calls, I'm having his number blocked for good. I mean it."

"Em …" I croak, unable to form any other coherent thought.

"Fucking hell, BeeBee, you shouldn't be talking to him anyway. What the fuck did he want this time?" Emmett is growling.

"Usual …" I'm still monosyllabic, almost.

We're now upstairs and Emmett is dumping me in the humongous tub in his master bathroom. No, I don't want to know why he'd need to install such a big bathtub. Ignorance is bliss sometimes.

I look up at him from the bottom of the bathtub while I'm trying to get back on my feet. He is dangerously close to the detachable showerhead, and I need to run for cover, if I know my brother.

"Oh, no, BeeBee, you don't!" He grins, his childish dimples in full view.

"Oh, no, Em, you won't!" But my protests get literally drowned by Emmett's quick reaction.

He is spraying water all over me, brandishing the showerhead like a lightsabre—how very Jedi of him. I can't help giggling while I run around the bathroom trying to escape from him. Quite predictably, I end up soaked and the bathroom turns into a disaster area. Emmett is still running after me but slips on the wet tiles and falls victim to his own ploy. We both end up on the floor, drenched from head to toe and laughing like idiots.

After our fit of hysterical laughter subsides, Em gets back on his feet and extends a hand to help me up. I look at him square in the eye.

"Thank you, Em."

"No biggie." He shrugs.

"'Tis a big deal for me. Thank you, bro," I say, almost tearing up again as I stand on my toes to caress his cheek. He smiles.

"You're a big deal for me, too, little sis," he replies, planting a delicate kiss on my forehead.

For such a burly man, you'd never peg him for being so affectionate, but he is, fortunately for me, because that's just what I need right now. He's like a huge cocoon of affection that wraps around me and protects me.

"Don't we have a party to go to, hot stuff?" he starts again, repeating the question he asked before all hell broke loose.

"Like this? Angela would totally freak out."

Emmett furrows his brow pensively. He's actually thinking about it, the clown that he is. He sighs. "It's kinda like work for you, BeeBee?"

I nod with a mock-serious expression.

"Damn. We need to change, then."

"We do, Em. I'll go get ready."

"Run along, sister. I wanna go and check out this actor of yours." And he's gone before I can even retort that there's no actor of mine in the picture.

A couple of hours later, we're speeding along the Pacific Coast Highway in the Viper, leaving the lukewarm sand and the sunset of Venice Beach behind for Angela's party.

Emmett is his usual jovial self, chatting about this and that and updating me on Rosie's latest stunts, while I can't refrain from tapping my foot impatiently. I'm so nervous I'm twisting locks of hair around my fingers, biting at my cuticles, and wringing my fingers, all at the same time. I guess even neurotics are allowed to multitask.

"BeeBee, just in case you're not aware, this area is prone to earthquake risk. If you keep this up, you're gonna mess with the seismographs at UCLA. They might think the big one's near. Give it a rest."

I get his point; this is only a party. A party hosted by a dear friend of mine, who has helped me find a new job in LA and is also helping me, encouraging me, and pulling every string in her book to boost my side project. My dream career.

Why shouldn't I be nervous? There's a lot at stake tonight. Nonetheless, Em is right. If I keep this up, I'll be a mumbling mess before I get to Angela's. I draw a deep breath meant to calm my nerves.

"What is it? Don't tell me the actor guy's got you in his clutches already?"

I try to give Emmett my best and nastiest stink eye. All his former insightfulness has probably gone down the drain in the shower. I was right—it was just a fluke—and here I am, stuck with my precious, predictable brother, who thinks I'm climbing the walls because I'm going to see my new boss at Angela's party. Delusional is not an adjective I ever thought I would apply to Emmett. I need to set the record straight before he carries this too far.

"Emmett, why would you think I'd be nervous to see Mr Cullen?"

"Are you really gonna keep calling him by his last name all the time? Doesn't this sound too much like Jane Eyre?"

He's been rummaging through my DVDs. Again. I could call him out on it, but it would be pointless. I try to answer his question truthfully.

"I just don't know the guy, Emmett. I'm trying to keep some distance."

He raises an eyebrow. "You're aware that last names actually fell out of fashion in this town a while ago, like around the 1950s?"

I may be a Londoner at heart, but I'm not dumb. I'm also aware Emmett will probably be ten times more at ease than I will be at this party. He may well know an awful lot of people there, and not just because he's lived in LA for years now, but because of his job as a personal trainer.

There's a common thread that links Emmett, Angela, and me together. When Emmett was on his way to becoming a professional football player, Angela was his agent—her dad knows our dad, made the introductions, and the rest is history, as they say. Once Emmett had to abandon professional football, he turned to Angela for advice, and she convinced him to take up coaching. A couple of years later, one of Angela's clients needed to bulk up for a movie, and Ang turned to Emmett for advice. Since then, whenever Ang needs a personal trainer for one of her actors, Emmett is her first port of call.

This is why it's safe to say that, though I am the one formally summoned by Angela to attend tonight's bash, Emmett is going to be entirely in his element while I'm going to be a fish out of water. Edward Cullen's presence is the least of my worries tonight. Frankly, he wouldn't even make my long list. The lump in my throat, the sweaty palms, and the restless leg can all be explained by the lofty list of people Angela wants me to meet later tonight.

I need to send BeeBee to sleep and get Bella out of the closet. She needs to fire on all pistons tonight. This is my best resolution as a wide gate opens in front of us.

"We're at Angela's?" I ask, awed, as I take in my surroundings. I've never been to her house before. Since I moved to LA, I've been meeting her either at her office or in Venice Beach.

Emmett only nods, cutting the engine of the Viper. He's out of the car in a flash and appears beside me to open my door like a true gentleman. He takes my hand and manages to whisper in my ear, chuckling. "They're looking at us like we're royalty, BeeBee. I'm gonna get a kick out of this, if you don't mind."

I'm too busy scanning the crowd for Angela to mind whatever Emmett is planning. I should be worried, but I can't find it within me to care. I'm also trying to find Edward Cullen, just to err on the safe side. After all, he's my boss and I should be aware of his whereabouts.

Before I can spot Edward anywhere, Angela welcomes Emmett and me and immediately steals me away. Emmett can't resist teasing her. Her hostess persona is a tad different from the usual cutthroat manners she sports while she's working.

"No, Ang, I don't mind you stealing my sister away for the evening. It's so thoughtful to leave me roaming the premises unsupervised."

Angela's stink eye is no more successful than mine. Emmett responds with a full belly laugh and disappears, a margarita in his hand.

Angela laces her arm with mine and guides me through the crowd, leading me to the back of the house. There's a huge, oddly shaped swimming pool illuminated by thousands of twinkle lights wound in intricate patterns around the deck and trellises of greenery surrounding it.

It's a lovely, quiet spot compared to the rest of the mansion. Adirondack chairs and couches are scattered haphazardly around the pool, and people are milling about, chit-chatting and sipping drinks. Needless to say, there's not a single face I can claim having seen before, and they all look a lot more glamorous than I do.

There's glamour and glamour. I'm more used to the quiet, polite, and monochromatic glamour of London, of Eton alumni clad in Burberry suits, and well-mannered ladies, whose only job is to attend charity events, and who can sport at least an ounce of nobility.

And there's this glamour: of people who apparently never speak to each other but are well aware of who's hot and who's not, of parties where the wrong outfit equals social suicide, and the agony aunt of choice is normally Perez Hilton.

I'm suddenly afraid I'll never fit in when I suddenly realise these two worlds probably boil down to a simple, and eerily similar, common denominator. They're both driven by information because it's all about who you know and what you know.

I have a knack for information. It's an easy thing to master when you have a photographic memory and your brain can't help linking bits and pieces together by association of ideas. It all becomes a gigantic spider web in your head, an incredible database that doesn't need backup.

My years with Jasper taught me that the golden rule is "whatever you know, know it before anyone else, and keep it to yourself until you know what to do with it". In "legalese", this means that if information is confidential, you keep it safe, you guard it with your life, because if you don't, the consequences can be dire indeed.

I mentally give myself a reassuring pat on the back. Maybe I can manage not to jinx this after all. I can do this.

Angela hands me a flute of champagne, effectively ending my reverie. "You did well this morning. I'm impressed."

Angela impressed? That's quite a compliment. I allow myself a smug grin. "Hope my method didn't have the impact of a freight train. Mr Cullen looked positively lost."

Angela chuckles and playfully smacks my elbow. "Only in a good way, but why the whole Mr Cullen and Miss Swan act? You know you'll have to drop that before long, don't you?"

"I … Ang … the fact is …"

"B, look, I can understand the distance thing, but Edward is a solemnly upright guy, if I ever saw one in this town. You have nothing to fear on that score."

Why does everyone misunderstand my motives? This is getting beyond ridiculous. "It's not that. Well, you're dead-on about the distance, but …"

Angela's eyebrows are raised to her hairline. "You don't like him? Instant dislike, hence the cold shoulder?"

I hiss, frustrated and at a loss for words. Other than Rosalie, Angela is my oldest and dearest friend. If I can't explain this to her properly, either something is seriously wrong with me, or I'm busted because it probably means I'm going about it the wrong way. They are right, and I am wrong.

"No, Ang. It's not that … I just don't … don't want to turn this into another Jasper situation."

She freezes for a second, deposits her empty glass on the nearest table, and looks at me, an earnest frown on her face. "I may be wrong, but I don't understand you, right now. He's not Jasper. You know that, right?"

I can only nod and hope she's right.

"Come along, smart girl. There's an editor and a literary agent I want you to meet."

With that, our heart-to-heart is finished and we go mingle. Angela introduces me to a few interesting contacts. Nothing is set in stone, though. I still have to figure out a couple of things before my side project can be taken to the next level.

During this meet and greet, some twist of fate keeps both my brother and my boss away from Angela and me. It could be a mere coincidence, given the sheer size of Angela's mansion, or not. While I have nothing to say about my boss since I don't have the slightest inkling as to what he might be up to, I can attest that my brother being quiet and inconspicuous at a party is not a good sign.

I leave Angela to her own devices and go on a manhunt for Emmett. After a while, my worries disappear at the sound of a boisterous laugh. Emmett found, crisis averted.

"Man, you should have seen her face! Fucking priceless!" Emmett's back hides whoever he's talking to. I close the distance in a few strides to check for myself.

"What was priceless, Em?" I ask in my most believable impression of an unfazed, disinterested face. At the sound of my voice, Emmett turns abruptly, still smiling from his successful punchline, to reveal that he is talking to none other than my boss.

Awkward silence ensues. Mr Cullen is looking at me as I link my arm with Emmett's, his eyes keen and narrowing. He looks mightily displeased. Perhaps he didn't want to be burdened with seeing his newly appointed help here tonight since my job starts next Monday.

Emmett looks down at me with the same eyes of a child caught with his hands in the cookie jar. I was right; Emmett was probably telling Mr Cullen something he shouldn't know. Now I'm going to torment my brother until he reveals his wrongdoings, and I'm sure as hell going to demand full disclosure.

We're still standing on the front terrace of Angela's house, and though it's a rather warm night for November, a sudden gust of wind sends chills down my spine. I shiver, still linked to my brother's side.

"Are you cold, BeeBee?"

"I believe I left my wrap in the car," I reply, nodding at the same time.

"I'll go get it for you." Emmett ruffles my hair, kisses my forehead, and goes. My puzzled gaze follows him for a few yards, trying to figure out why he's being so affectionate with me in public, which is unusual for him, notwithstanding my earlier meltdown.

Mr Cullen's look of displeasure now borders on disgust. Better and better because now we're alone and must talk to each other. I take the plunge; now is as good a moment as any.

"You should never take at face value anything that comes from Emmett's mouth, you know," I explain with affectionate indulgence. Emmett's exuberance and penchant for the dramatic don't sit well with just anybody.

Mr Cullen shrugs, digs his hands deeper in his pockets, and casts his eyes down. Well, if this isn't interesting. This guy, who should be used to living in the limelight by now, seems as shy and uncomfortable as me in social situations. My earlier words come back to me. He may look young and lost, but if he's this genuine, then he's not a lost cause to me.

I realise that Angela is right, and I was wrong. He isn't Jasper, and I can't jinx this because of my fears. If I get a clean slate to start, so does he.

"And I'm sure he just told you something he'll probably regret," I continue with a sly smile.

Slowly, cautiously, his face rises to meet my eyes.

"Why should he, Miss Swan?" he asks in a tentative whisper.

Clean slate—a clean slate to start. I need to fix this morning's mistake. Let's start with something easy. Let's start with introductions. When Mr Cullen met Miss Swan, take two.

"Bella, just … Bella."

His face lights up in a blinding smile.

They're getting there. Bit by bit. Bella's cautious for good reasons. Edward has six months of airplane observations under his belt, which puts Bella at quite a disadvantage.

Talk to me people. And see you next Monday.

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